Why past performance must be part of acquisition reform

Although the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov brought attention to how the federal government purchases technology, little consideration has been given to how contractors with poor track records of performance continue to get federal contracts.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, raised this issue at a recent hearing by saying that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “could have avoided a black eye” for the failed rollout of the HealthCare.gov website if the agency had had relevant data on the past performance of CGI Federal.

That raises the question of what is being done to improve data on contractors’ past performance. And perhaps more important, why is past-performance data not being captured properly in the first place?

Last year, the government issued a new rule in an attempt to create governmentwide, standardized contract performance rating and evaluation factors for federal contractors. However, without the metrics and objective performance parameters needed to create uniformity and consistency in the evaluations of a contractor’s past performance, the rule simply continued the current system of subjective ratings by evaluators.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/04/11/comment-gracia-past-performance-data.aspx 

GSA acquisition database integration pushed back to 2018

The General Services Administration (GSA) pushed back the planned completion date of an integrated acquisition database to 2018 because of development problems and cost overruns, GSA Assistant Commissioner Kevin Youel Page told a Senate panel March 6.

“We’ve suffered our own missteps,” Page said during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight.

Plans were made in 2001 to combine governmentwide acquisition databases into a single system called the Integrated Acquisition Environment.

But the project has been plagued with problems.

A March 2012 Government Accountability Office report says cost overruns, which grew by 89 percent, were largely due to mistakes GSA has made. GAO initially estimated it would cost about $95.7 million, but the 2012 estimate came in at $181.1 million.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-acquisition-database-integration-pushed-back-2018/2014-03-07 

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Data on contractor past performance is missing or inaccurate

Four interagency databases designed to warn contracting officers about a company’s past performance are riddled with problems that can become expensive agency boondoggles, a senator declared at an oversight hearing Thursday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., blasted as “shockingly old and clunky” the databases pioneered by the Navy and now administered governmentwide by the General Services Administration, calling for more complete information on whether contractors, for example, have been suspended and debarred.

She criticized the Office of Management and Budget for not sending a witness to a hearing she held as chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs contracting subcommittee. McCaskill also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “could have avoided a black eye” for the “very public failure” of the rollout of the Healthcare.gov website last fall had it been able to discover more on the past performance of the contractor CGI Federal.

Since passage of the 2002 E-Government Act, agencies have sought to consolidate and centralize online data on contractors’ performance history including contract terminations, criminal acts and administrative adjudications. The chief databases that managers may consult include the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), the Federal Awardee Performance Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) and the System for Award Management.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/03/senator-some-data-contractor-past-performance-missing-or-inaccurate/80062

 

DoD re-emphasizes importance of contractor past-performance reporting

The Defense Department’s contracting chief, Frank Kendall, has called for renewed emphasis on the importance of agency reporting on contractor performance.

In a January 9, 2014 memorandum to the Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition workforce, DoD Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics points out that while the reporting goal for FY14 is 95 percent, compliance with the goal is at only 81.5 percent department-wide.

Only first quarter FY14 data are available at this point.  Past performance reports are to be filed in Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS).

An analysis of first quarter FY14 data shows that while five units within DoD have a reporting record of 90 percent or better, there are eight DoD units with 50 percent or lower reporting compliance.  Most of these are small units with a small amount of contracting activity.

A DoD unit with a significant number of contract closeouts coupled with a high rate of reporting non-compliance is the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA).  DCMA’s reporting percentage is 68.5 percent.

The  Navy, Army and Air Force have the highest numbers of contracts and contract closeouts.  While their levels of reporting are relatively high (85, 78, and 87 percent, respectively), each has a high number of overdue reports as of the end of the first quarter.  The Army has 8,810 past due reports, while the Navy and Air Force have 3,023 and 1,737 late reports, respectively.

The memorandum and its attachment can be seen here: USA000068-14-DPAP.

Pentagon buys untested mobile security system for 300,000 users

Pentagon officials did not test product performance before purchasing a potentially $16 million service intended to secure smartphones and tablets for 300,000 military personnel worldwide.

In late June, the Defense Information Systems Agency inked a deal for software and training to support government-owned mobile gadgets used by the entire Defense Department, along with members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and military reserve forces. The product selection process did not require technology demonstrations, according to contract filings.

The “mobile device management” system is critical to ensuring unclassified consumer brand devices that touch military networks do not infect Defense systems or leak information if they fall into the wrong hands.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/mobile/2013/07/pentagon-buys-untested-mobile-security-system-300000-users/66854/?oref=nextgov_today_nl

Procurement chief: Measure contractor performance

Joe Jordan, the top White House procurement official, recently told a gathering of government officials and contractors how he and his wife sometimes travel to New England and look for places to stay along the way. He wasn’t giving travel advice, though.

The remarks, delivered at an acquisition conference in Washington, aimed to highlight a way the government can improve how it does business.

“It really bothers me at a personal, visceral level that when I look for a bed and breakfast because my wife and I are going away for the weekend, I have vastly more descriptive information … about the quality of bed and breakfasts within a three-hour drive of D.C. than what many agencies have when they answer to a $20 million IT services contract,” Jordan said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20130417/IT03/304170004/Procurement-chief-Measure-contractor-performance?odyssey=nav%7Chead 

Sharing contractor performance data in eight easy steps

The Obama administration is pressing the acquisition workforce to get better at telling other agencies, through a governmentwide online performance database, how well contractors do their jobs.

Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, wants to improve the quantity and quality of data agencies put into the Federal Award Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

FAPIIS is the foundation for good data, Jordan stressed in the memo, dated March 6.

“However, ” he added, “agencies must increase their use of these tools, as underreporting performance information leaves the government vulnerable to poor acquisition outcomes in the future.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2013/03/18/contractor-performance-data.aspx 

OFPP tells agencies to get serious about tracking contractor performance

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is attempting, for a third time, to get  agencies to use the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) more  consistently.

So instead of asking and encouraging, OFPP Administrator Joe Jordan is setting  specific goals for agencies.

In a new memo to chief acquisition officers and  senior procurement executives, Jordan sets three-year targets for agencies to  enter vendor-performance information into the governmentwide database.

This year, the goals vary depending on how often the agency is currently entering  data into PPIRS. For instance, departments inputting data for 60 percent or more  of their contracts, must improve to 85 percent by Sept. 30. For agencies using  PPIRS 30 percent to 60 percent of the time, their goal now is 75  percent. And for those agencies using PPIRS less than 30 percent of the time,  their goal is 65 percent.

“This required contract-administration duty can significantly reduce the risk to  the government on future awards, so agencies must take bold steps to ensure that  all critical performance information is made available in the Past Performance  Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) in a timely manner, and to the maximum extent  practicable, eliminate duplicative, paper-based past performance evaluation  surveys generated outside these systems,” Jordan wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3247234/OFPP-tells-agencies-to-get-serious-about-tracking-contractor-performance

DHS reduces noncompetitive contracts, improves oversight

Noncompetitive contracts at the Homeland Security Department totaled about  $389 million in fiscal 2012, down from $3.5 billion in fiscal 2008, the DHS office of inspector general says.

The department’s spending on noncompetitive contracts has dropped each year  since fiscal 2008, and in the meantime, it has improved its internal oversight  of acquisitions, the OIG says in a report dated Feb. 1, 2013 and recently posted online.

For example, out of the 40 noncompetitive awards from 2012 that auditors  examined, all those that required written justification had it complete and on  file. Problems with justification have fallen since 2008, when 27 percent of  justifications in the OIG’s sample were deficient.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dhs-reduces-noncompetitive-contracts-improves-oversight/2013-02-20 

Download a copy of the DHA IG’s report referred to in this article at: http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2013/OIG_13-36_Feb13.pdf 

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8 key acquisition provisions in 2013 defense bill

The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a major piece of legislation affecting many aspects of how the government deals with costs and contracts, contains some noteworthy provisions.  Here are the eight most important provisions;

1. Better pricing data.

2. Easier analysis of pricing trends.

3. Faster access to past-performance data.

4. A review of the contractor pay cap.

5. Workforce decisions left to DOD.

6. A limit on cost-type contracts.

7. Critical acquisition jobs reserved for feds.

8. Status quo for small-business contracting goal.

To read details, please see: http://fcw.com/articles/2012/12/19/ndaa-acquisition.aspx.